March 15th, 2015 | 3 MIN READ

Mobile Content in Context: Rules of Responsive Experience

Written by author_profile_images Linda Bustos

Linda is an ecommerce industry analyst and consultant specializing in conversion optimization and digital transformation.

With Apple Watch's launch last week, marketers are paying attention to what they can do with the wearable.

While QVC wasted no time in developing its own Apple Watch features, ready to launch when the smartwatch does, it smartly stuck to the context of the device, choosing the right content experiences.

Pairing with its smartphone app, the QVC Apple Watch experience grabs Today's Special Value and On Air products without the need to launch the phone, which fits the "check in culture" of its customers, and rather than be a "second (or third) screen," is designed to be used by QVC addicts who are not at home.

Rather than try to push the entire site or app experience to the wearable, the solution hones in on the "glanceable" content that best suits both the form factor of the device (reeeeeally tiny with a limited interface) and the use context of the device.

From Responsive Design to Responsive Experience

Whether tablet, smartphone or emerging device, an often overlooked piece of mobile content and UX strategy is use context. It's not just about content "working" on a device, that's just responsive design. Matching content to the end user's mindset and use context makes it a responsive experience.

While the optimal experiences will depend on your business and customers (not all brands enjoy the constant check-in behavior that QVC does, for example), you can follow these high-level rules of thumb:

Wearable devices are about glanceable content. This includes Google Glass, Apple Watch, fitness bands, etc. While many brands won't even bother creating experiences for these devices, every marketer should at minimum be concerned about the smartwatch's impact on email consumption. How will your messages be best consumed by these devices?

Smartphones are about snackable content. Sure, some folks will use your app or mobile site much like they would on a desktop, but overwhelmingly mobile users crave smaller bites of content. Your merchandising zones should be shorter and more relevantly curated. Product pages should be easy to scan. Emails should be short and digestible. Navigation should support this behavior.

eBags' Obsession feature is a perfect example of snackable merchandising and product discovery.

Tablets are "lean-back" devices. Consumers are more likely to use tablets at home in a relaxed mindset than when on mobile or desktop. Engagement with content and even conversion rates and average order values reflect this.

Bazaarvoice data suggests tablet users are more engaged with user generated content like product reviews. It's likely that tablet users are also more receptive to UGC like customer inspiration boards that are so-the-rage.


Adobe suggests the tablet user experience "may be more conducive to online shopping, and shopping on tablets may take place in a less stressful environment."

This presents opportunity to feature more entertainment, editorial and engaging content front-and-center. Think about the other activities tablet users love to use their tablets for. Observe what content they gravitate to, how clickstream differs from other devices, and think about what the optimal tablet shopping experience should be.

Merchandisers, marketers, web designers, conversion optimization professionals should all be obsessed with context. Don't be satisfied with one experience delivered to all devices - that's not mobile strategy.

Understand how your customers use devices differently and what their mindsets are in various device contexts. Craft experience hypotheses and test them. Don't be afraid to design different experiences and target different content based on this context. There's no rule that you should deliver a uniform experience across devices and customers. In fact, it's likely that doing so misses a lot of opportunity.

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